Hindu Naming Traditions

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Posted on: November 1st, 2018by Elizabeth Henderson

Names define who we are. Hence, each society had a special attachment to the names they give to their children. Hindus have one of the richest cultures in the world. Most of the Hindu culture is still intact even today. Namkara-naming ceremony- is one of the most highly venerated Hindu rituals. This day is defined by the traditional naming procedures that must be observed by the parents and the whole family. The naming ceremony comes just a few weeks after the birth of the baby. Traditionally, the Jatarkama which the special ceremony is meant to welcome the newborns into the family precedes Namkara. The Indian culture requires that Jatarkama come just after 11 days upon a successful delivery. During this entire period, the family must observe the traditional rites.

On the day of Namkara, the mother and the baby must put on traditional dressing. The maternal and the paternal grandparents are also important parts of this ceremony. The Rajputs culture allows the paternal aunt to name the baby. Drops of water are splashed on the forehead of the baby as a form of purification. After this, the baby is handed over to the paternal grandmother who bears it as the aunt gives the name. The Hindus show a lot of respect to God during Namkara. The parents would open the ceremony with mantras and prayers as guided by the priest. The priest also performs a prayer to the god of fire, Agni. Despite the recognition of Agni as the Supreme Being, prayers to the ancestral spirits and the four elements also characterize the naming ceremony. Once the aunt has decided upon the name, she whispers to the grandmother who shouts it out for the rest to hear. The father then uses a gold stick to right the name on thali, which is a bronze dish upon which grains of rice are spread.

The Hindu naming system is almost similar to the Red Indians. However, the formula used to arrive at the names is a bit complex. This is probably the reason why many Indians who live away from home have decided to veer of their culture. Nevertheless, I find this naming system fascinating to say the least. These people do not give names for the sake of it. They demonstrate their culture at every stage and the outcome is meant to have significance in the cultural environment. The naming process is founded on the principles of Vedic Astrology. The initial letter of the name must come from the star of birth, date of birth, the moon sign and the positioning of the planets on at the time of birth. At other times, the name would be given from among the dead ancestors or the god of the month which the baby was born. The Hindu people have five key naming principles: Masanam, the birth month; Rashinama, the Zodiac sign at birth; Nakshatranam, the lunar asterism; Samsarikanama, the worldly name; Devatanama, after the family deity. The family must consider all these five elements before coming up with the name. One might view this system as complex and retrogressive. However, it accords an everlasting meaning to the name and the individual.

The boys' names and the girl's names are determined by culture. For instance, the letters in the boys' names are even in number. On the other hand, the letters in the girls' names are odd in number. This makes it easier for one to determine the gender of the baby by hearing the name only. Based on this arrangement, I believe the Indians do not have unisex names. The birth start is the determinant of the first letter of the name. For instance, the names that begin with letter 'A' are for the children who are born during Kritika while those whose names begin with letter 'O' are those who are born during Rohini. By following this rule, it is easy to determine the birth months of the Hindu children. Arriving at the name of a baby is often one of the most difficult tasks. The Hindu culture seems to make this process enjoyable because it is organized and easy to follow. The family only needs to know the season in which the child was born and through that, the name comes almost instantly.

The Hindu baby names are accorded meanings that are significant to the cultural, the religion, and the natural environment. Most of the names are complex in their structure. I am going to pick some of simplest baby names in Hindu and their meanings. Aadi is a Hindu name for the boys. The name means first, most important. The name stands for the fourth month according to the calendar of the Tamil people of India. Babala is a Hindu name for boy child. The name means above. The baby can be given this name if he was born during Rohini. One of the five principles of naming according to the Hindu people is that the person is born during the time of a particular god. In this case, the baby may acquire the name that has some closeness to the specific god. One example of such a name is Eha which means Lord Vishnu. The Hindu triumvirate is made up of three gods who are in charge of creation, maintenance, and destruction of the world. Lord Vishnu is the second god in this triumvirate. The Lord Vishnu celebration falls in April. This means that the name Eha goes for baby boys who are born during this month.

The Hindu names are used to inspire desirable attributes in people. Daksha is the Hindu name for baby girls. The name is attributed to Sati, the able and talented wife of Shiva. Sati is the goddess of longetivity and marital felicity. By giving the girl this name, the family is hoping that she turns out to be a virtuous woman who is the bedrock for the family. Sati's birthday is celebrated in December. Hence, babies born during this month can assume the name Daksha.

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